17 December 2011

Oat and Neep Stew

Once upon a time, when I was looking for Scottish fare to serve on Burns' Day (because I neither could nor wanted to serve haggis), I found a stew that was thickened with rolled oats and called for turnip or rutabaga as the main starch. Of course, I've never found it again, and I've done some adjustments to the proportions of the stew, but the inspiration stands.

The original recipe called for some sort of bean or lentil, I'm sure, but I don't remember exactly what. I have, however, settled on using both beans and lentils, though more of the former, and I particularly like kidney or cannellini beans in this recipe. (By the by, I was looking up the correct spelling of cannellini and randomly found out that in fact "as few as five raw [kidney] beans" can cause poisoning "and symptoms occur within three hours, beginning with nausea, then vomiting, which can be severe and sustained [profuse], followed by diarrhea. Recovery occurs within four or five hours of onset, usually without the need for any medical intervention." [Wikipedia] Of course boiling them for ten minutes takes care of that, but still. How odd.)

I've also tried a few different meats in this stew. Ground lamb is what was in the original recipe, and it is delicious. Chicken (not ground) also works very well, but steer clear of beef as it's too bitter for this stew. And I guess that's all I really have to say about this recipe, so let's get to it.

Oat and Neep Stew
serves 6-8

3/4 cup dry kidney or cannellini beans
1/2 cup dry lentils

4 cups vegetable stock
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of rutabaga or turnip
2 large carrots
1 large onion
2 large cloves garlic
1 pound meat (chicken or ground lamb)
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup rolled oats
salt and pepper to taste


1. Soak your beans overnight or for at least 3 hours and discard soaking water. Lentils need to soak at least 1 hour, but can be soaked overnight too, just expect them to fall to mush if you do this. You can skip this step, but do at least rinse the legumes, and know that they will take longer to cook if you haven't soaked them.

2. After discarding the soaking water, put legumes in a pot and cover with water by about 3 inches. Bring this to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer until tender.

3. Meanwhile, cut the carrots and rutabaga into bite-sized pieces; dice the onions; mince the garlic, rosemary and thyme.

4. In a separate pan from the legumes, sear the meat and then sauté the onions and garlic. Set these aside.

5. Drain the bean liquor if you want, if not, you'll have to use a bit more oats to thicken the stew.

6. Add everything to the pot with the legumes; bring it to a boil, reduce again to a simmer and cook until the carrots and rutabaga are tender and the beans are a bit mushy.

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